So, hum, I have In the Vanishers’ Palace, a dark sapphic retelling of Beauty and the Beast coming out tomorrow, and I asked Likhain (who’s a fabulous artist) to draw me some art to go with it. Because we all want colourful dragons, right?
Preorder In the Vanishers’ Palace or buy in the first two weeks of release, and get exclusive Likhain wallpapers, as well as a discount on the (gorgeous) prints from her shop!Buy now
(more book info here)
And here is the art!
(offer valid for both ebook and print purchases until 29th October, midnight Pacific Time–sorry for the cutoff date but I’ll be travelling to WFC afterwards and will probably be too jetlagged to answer emails!).
If you’ve already preordered the ebook (or got the print book) prior to this blog post obviously the offer is also valid.
Just fill in the contact form with a receipt of your purchase (NB: please remove all identify details such as physical address etc. from your receipt!) and send it on!
Prints can be bought here:
Just a quick note that my Dominion of the Fallen story “Court of Birth, Court of Strength” is now up at Beneath Ceaseless Skies.
In the ruins of a Gothic Paris, a city devastated in the wake of a magical war, a young and sheltered Fallen angel goes to an older one for help in finding a missing child.
The leader of House Hawthorn’s Court of Birth lived in a part of the House that Samariel had never been to: a wing of dusty, disused corridors where the wainscoting had rotted away and the wallpaper’s elegant asphodels were obscured by elongated smudges of grey fungus. The door was small and crooked. Samariel would have thought it the entrance to a garret, but it opened into a wide, airy space with barely a trace of mould or spells gone awry. A makeshift antechamber held two Louis XV armchairs with plump, curved mahogany legs, and behind it was the shape of a four-poster bed that had seen better days, its silk canopy patched so many times the patterns on it had all but disappeared under the seams of repairs.
(for anyone who’s read the books: this happens before The House of Shattered Wings, and it’s the Asmodeus/Samariel courtship story!)
Once upon a time, I wrote a book.
I was exhausted, dealing with health issues and a bunch of kids-related anxiety–and writing had just stopped being fun. I could tell I was flirting with burnout, because I’d had it before in other settings. I could tell I was going to crash and that it wasn’t going to be pretty when it did happen. But also, stopping writing would have been about as easy as stopping to breathe.
So I decided to write something just for me. A book that I’d feel like sinking into for pleasure: a queer retelling of Beauty and the Beast, except in a setting inspired by Vietnamese folklore–drawing from all those stories my mother and grandmother told me, the ones with scholar-magicians and dragons and kỳ lân and rooster spirits, where words had the weight of magic. Something fun and frothy and feelgood.
Obviously I don’t do fun and frothy very well, because I seem to have ended up with a postcolonial, postapocalyptic Beauty and the Beast, where both are women and the Beast is a dragon (because dragons, and because f/f relationships in SFF need more happy endings!), and where spirits and humans alike are struggling to survive in a world ruined by their former masters. And it wasn’t always feelgood to write: in fact, it was downright uncomfortable, because it ended up being such a weighty and personal story, because I drew on so much that meant so much to me. But it was important. It mattered to me. And that helped me claw my way out of the hole. It helped me find joy and meaning in writing again.
It also ended up being a decidedly awkward length (novel-length but too short for fantasy novel publishers). So I had to make a decision: I could stick it in a drawer for the time being, or I could try self-publishing it. I’d self-published books before but never an original, so the idea of doing self-publishing with this seemed like a super scary experience. A bit like putting out a raw bleeding piece of my heart out there without the backing of traditional publishing.
I went the scary way.
Without further ado I’m very happy to reveal the cover and to open preorders for In the Vanishers’ Palace, which is coming out October 16th from all major retailers. Scroll down for more info!
Publication date: October 16th from JABberwocky ebooks.
(NB: there will be a print edition, it will drop later in October: basically amazon doesn’t let us list a print book for preorder, so we’ll have to manually publish it around mid-October, and then wait about a week for it to go live. Links will be posted when available)
From the award-winning author of the Dominion of the Fallen series comes a dark retelling of Beauty and the Beast.
In a ruined, devastated world, where the earth is poisoned and beings of nightmares roam the land…
A woman, betrayed, terrified, sold into indenture to pay her village’s debts and struggling to survive in a spirit world.
A dragon, among the last of her kind, cold and aloof but desperately trying to make a difference.
When failed scholar Yên is sold to Vu Côn, one of the last dragons walking the earth, she expects to be tortured or killed for Vu Côn’s amusement.
But Vu Côn, it turns out, has a use for Yên: she needs a scholar to tutor her two unruly children. She takes Yên back to her home, a vast, vertiginous palace-prison where every door can lead to death. Vu Côn seems stern and unbending, but as the days pass Yên comes to see her kinder and caring side. She finds herself dangerously attracted to the dragon who is her master and jailer. In the end, Yên will have to decide where her own happiness lies—and whether it will survive the revelation of Vu Côn’s dark, unspeakable secrets…
“Another stellar offering by Bodard. Her signature intensity is on display in this tale of people (and dragons) struggling to survive in the ruins of an alien conquest. Emotionally complex relationships interweave with richly drawn and deftly nuanced world-building.”
Kate Elliott, Author of the Court of Fives series
“A transformative experience. With dragons.”
Fran Wilde, Hugo and Nebula nominated author of The Bone Universe and The Gemworld series
“Gorgeously atmospheric queer fantasy (…) like Jane Eyre if Rochester was a woman plus a dragon.”
Zen Cho, author of Sorcerer to the Crown and The True Queen
I would love if you preordered this: as I said, this is new and a bit scary for me, and self-publishing obviously means I’m bearing the costs I incurred for making a book (cover art, copyediting, etc.). Thank you so much!Buy now
Add the book on Goodreads
(I will now go and hide under the bed)
Cooking the Books is back! Today my co-host Fran Wilde and I sit down with author Jeannette Ng and her book Under the Pendulum Sun, a claustrophobic tale of Faelands, Victorian missionaries and a house where nothing is as it seems…
We talked classics and rewriting them–check this out here as well as the extra material at the Booksmugglers cooking extension!
In addition to Jeanette’s brownie recipe below, she also answered two reader questions from twitter – those of Joseph Brassey and Tade Thompson.
This month’s Cooking the Books Podcast, #039: A Taste of Light: Cooking the Books with Jeannette Ng contains:
- creepy food
- the unseen
- a disconcerting bowl of blood
- sun physics
- frozen grapes
- alternate allegories
- how one approaches condiments
- forbidden foods
- nursery rhyme research
- a shoutout to Emma Newman’s Split Worlds series and the Split Worlds Ball.
- And much more.
Visit additional Cooking the Books content over on the The Booksmugglers!
(thanks as always to our friend Paul Weimer, who helps out with the kitchen cleaning–this time it was many many smears of chocolate!)
Cooking the Books Podcast, #039: A Taste of Light: Cooking the Books with Jeannette Ng
Answers to questions from twitter:
Joseph Brassey: “Jeannette has previously mentioned the idea of getting outside of feeling beholden to conventional wisdoms of writing, realizing that specific methods are designed for specific ands and might not apply to what you’re trying to do in a given book. Can she unpack this a bit?”
So, a lot of general writing advice presupposes that one wants to write an airport novel, something thrilling, relatively easy to digest and brisk to read. The aversion to exposition and filter words are rooted in that. And if one wants to write in that style, the advice can be incredibly useful, but if one is attempting something a bit more folkloric, it can be incredibly unhelpful as it pulls you in a different direction.
A lot of sff writing advice is rooted in the preferences of John W Campbell, who is both an awful person and also spearheaded the golden age of science fiction with his very specific tastes. Many things we take for granted in the genre aren’t mandates from above, they are relics from their creation. The definition of “hard scifi” revolving mostly around physics and chemistry, for example, is rooted in Campbell’s preferences. He just didn’t think much of biology, geography or even the social sciences, thus he didn’t consider them important when recreating a science fiction that was scientific.
And to me, knowing all of this helps me challenge the norms of genre writing, because these conventions are not written in stone and passed down to us from time immemorial. It makes the defiance feel smaller. It also helps to read the myriad exceptions to these rules, many of which are themselves are revered classics. Though even more are forgotten and erased.
But of course the question remains what best serves the story one is trying to tell and that is always the trickiest to answer. It may indeed fit well into the beats of a plot-heavy thriller riddled with cliffhangers. It may be best told as a deep dive into the mindset of a single character or sprawled across multiple voices. Everyone has their preferences both as a reader and as a writer (some people hate reading present tense, for example, others find first person uncomfortable), but those preferences are just that.
Tade Thompson: “Durian! What’s the best way to consume it?”
I confess not to be the biggest fan of the fruit raw. It was a deeply divisive fruit in my household when I was younger and my mother would always bring up how she had triumphantly converted my father, a longtime hater of the fruit, to the cause. How he had went from buying a fruit he doesn’t eat for her out of love to hoarding it all for himself.
Being my stubborn self, I refused to be swayed. Reminiscences aside, I’m quite partial to it in cake of various sorts. Especially the pancake rolls that Honeymoon Dessert in Hong Kong do with them, all bundled with squirty cream.
Recipe preamble: This recipe is built around the idea that I want as little leftover ingredients as possible as I used to cook it in a shared kitchen at boarding school. I usually double it and thus use all of a 500g bag of sugar and half a dozen eggs. Sadly butter comes in 250g pats, which was a perpetual source of frustration to me and the reason why I started making cookies.
200g dark chocolate (or rather, one packet of Tesco plain chocolate)
200g white or milk chocolate (one packet Tesco milk chocolate)
250g granulated sugar
a few drops vanilla extract
100g all-purpose flour
Melt 200g of dark chocolate and 200g of butter in non stick saucepan, using the lowest setting of the electric hob. Stir to make sure it doesn’t burn.
Take off the heat and allow butter/chocolate mixture to cool. Smash up the remaining chocolate into chunks with gleeful violence and/or catch two minutes of tv in the common room.
Some people transfer the butter/chocolate mixture into a mixing bowl, but I am profoundly lazy and thus don’t. Add sugar to butter/chocolate and mix with wooden spoon.
Add eggs and mix into the mixture one at a time.
Fold in the flour in a sort of figure-of-eight motion.
Pour into buttered tin, stud the chocolate chunks into the brownie mixture and bake at 180C for 25-30mins until crispy on the outside and toothpick comes out clean.
Jeannette Ng is originally from Hong Kong but now lives in Durham, UK. Her MA in Medieval and Renaissance Studies fed into an interest in medieval and missionary theology, which in turn spawned her love for writing gothic fantasy with a theological twist. She runs live roleplay games and is active within the costuming community, running a popular blog. Jeannette has been nominated for the John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer for her novel Under the Pendulum Sun.
Check out our archives.
Next week I’ll be attending Nine Worlds in London Hammersmith–come hang out! I’ve posted my schedule here.
So once upon a time I needed a fun break, and I wrote a story about how Asmodeus and Samariel first met and flirted with each other (if you’re asking how, the answer is “smouldering mode on”). Because apparently I cannot do fun even if I try, this is a story of what happens when Samariel, a low-ranked bodyguard in House Hawthorn, hires Asmodeus when the child he considers his own gets kidnapped, and how the two of them handle a Gothic, devastated Paris rife with intrigue to get said child back (“how does it go?” you ask. If you already know Asmodeus, the answer is “about as well as you can imagine”).
Anyway, I’m pleased to announce I’ve sold the story to Scott Andrews at Beneath Ceaseless Skies for their ten-year-anniversary issue, and that it’ll appear in late September online.
(although set in the existing universe of Dominion of the Fallen, it should be completely standalone–as evidenced by the fact that Scott, who’d read neither of the novels, liked it enough to buy :))
I’ll be a guest at Elstercon 2018, September 21-23 in Leipzig.
Come hang out!
I read and *loved* Chelsea Polk‘s glorious debut novel, Witchmark, from Publishing and Tor Books (I blurbed it, in fact!). Set in an alternate post-War world, it’s got magic, family, politics, the sweetest gay romance, and bicycle chases! Still time to preorder, by the way: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Macmillan.
It’s also filled with food — apples in particular, but other foods as well.
Fran Wilde and I sat down (metaphorically) with Chelsea to talk about the book and more. She also answered questions for our partners in crime The Booksmugglers!
Chelsea will be at 4th Street Fantasy in June, and celebrating the launch of Witchmark soon after, but you can hear her here first!
This month’s Cooking the Books Podcast, #037: How to Feed Magic – Cooking the Books with Chelsea Polk contains:
- Energy-replenishment Guidelines After Magic Use
- The food you eat with friends
- LGBT Romance Recs (along with some adult recs)
- Improper substitution of fountain pens for food by Aliette Pen Bodard
- The best way to cook steak and pasta
- A few thoughts about post-war PTSD
- And much more.
Visit additional Cooking the Books content over on the The Booksmugglers!
(thanks as always to our friend Paul Weimer, who helps out with the kitchen cleaning–this time it was thick trail mix!)
Podcast #037: How to Feed Magic – Cooking the Books with Chelsea Polk
Chelsea’s Recipe: Trail Mix Oatmeal Cookies
I love oatmeal cookies. I’ll even eat them with raisins. but I greatly prefer the version I developed a few years ago, with dried cranberries, chocolate chips, and pecan pieces. this recipe is a relatively small batch of cookies, by my gluttonous standards – I make a dozen, and freeze the other half to make more later.
To make these cookies, you need:
- 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
- 125g (about 2/3 cup) brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cardamom (cinnamon is a fine substitute)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 95g (about 2/3 cup) all-purpose flour
- 120g (about 2/3 cup) rolled oats
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup pecan pieces
Order of Operations:
In a medium sized mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar together, adding egg, vanilla, baking soda, cardamom, and salt. Stir in flour; mix in rolled oats in gradual doses, and then add cranberries, chocolate chips, and pecan pieces. mix well.
Refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes, maximum 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 350. Drop 1.5″ balls of dough on a cookie sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes; leave on the sheet to continue cooking for 5 minutes.
Store in an airtight container to preserve the chewy texture. They will probably last in the refrigerator for several days, but I don’t have that kind of willpower.
C.L. Polk writes fiction and spots butterflies in Southern Alberta. She has an unreasonable fondness for knitting, single estate coffee, and the history of fashion. Her debut series beginning with the novel Witchmark is available from Tor.com Publishing.
Cooking the Books is a mostly-monthly podcast hosted by Fran Wilde and Aliette de Bodard.
Check out our archives.
Very quick announcement as I’m hard at work on a novel (book 3 of Dominion of the Fallen, about which I hope to have cool news soon!). Here’s a re-release of an old, hard-to-find story I wrote with Gareth L Powell when I was still a baby writer (feels so far away lol!). I still remember googling all the Paris locations because I needed clear visuals, and I may have visited them all but my visual memory isn’t that strong! Anyway, this is a story about two of my loves: Paris, and artificial intelligences and the future. You can get it at Amazon (for the moment it’s not available at other vendors. We’ll keep you updated if that changes).
Aliette de Bodard, winner of the Nebula, Locus and BSFA Awards, teams up with BSFA Award-winner Gareth L. Powell to present an uplifting short story of machines and humans, of intense emotions and cutting-age technology culled from tomorrow’s headlines.
Installing a network for the Church of Accelerated Redemption is just another crappy job in a series of crappy jobs for Lisa, an American engineer stuck doing menial work in Paris. That the Church uses artificial intelligences to power its never-ending prayer machines doesn’t interest her at all: they’re paying, and she needs enough money to survive in an increasingly crumbling world. Until a demonstration outside the Church’s headquarters, and the appearance of Stéphane, an enigmatic man Lisa finds herself powerfully drawn to. What lies beneath his headscarf, why is he so interested in the Church–and how far will she be willing to go in order to earn his trust?
“Full of character and wit” – Zone SF
“Wonderful and full of promise.” – SF Revu